Google could build Aussie datacentre

Google has refused to rule out constructing an Australian datacentre amid what analysts and partners say is "intense" interest from large Australian organisations in the search giant's cloud computing Apps suite.

Google has refused to rule out constructing an Australian datacentre amid what analysts and partners say is "intense" interest from large Australian organisations in the search giant's cloud computing Apps suite.

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(Credit: Chris Duckett/ZDNet.com.au)

At an event held in Sydney last week, global IT outsourcer CSC revealed it would start selling hosted Microsoft messaging and collaboration applications such as Exchange, SharePoint and Office Communications Server from an Australian datacentre as part of a strong push into cloud computing solutions.

CSC's Australasian chief technology and innovation officer Bob Hayward also revealed CSC would offer the full suite of Google Apps to Australian organisations, saying customers were displaying "intense interest" in cloud computing solutions specifically from Microsoft and Google.

But at the event, Google's Asia-Pacific head of market development Deepak Ramanathan stopped short of committing to local infrastructure.

"For us to say this is the right path is difficult," he said, saying the search giant was not ruling out an Australian datacentre for services like Gmail, and that discussions were ongoing.

Industry speculation about Google hosting an Australian datacentre has swirled off and on since the search giant started winning large hosted email deals in Australian educational institutions over the past several years, with the largest being a migration of 1.5 million NSW students to Gmail from Microsoft Exchange.

The sticking point for some organisations has been the need for sensitive data to be hosted in Australia. At the event, Gartner distinguished analyst Rolf Jester said he knew of one federal government organisation that wasn't switching to a cloud email solution because of the lack of local hosting. The closest datacentre hosting Microsoft's own Business Productivity Online Suite is in Singapore, although the CSC solution will provide one local Microsoft option.

Ramanathan acknowledged the search giant had received questions about local servers but added the company's business model was based on "scale and size".

Hayward said it wasn't possible for CSC to host Google infrastructure locally, but pointed out that there were a number of Google datacentres located in countries with regulatory environments similar to Australia's that might prove more attractive to local organisations.

In a general sense, the CSC executive said the level of interest in Google applications in Australia had surprised him.

So far, Microsoft and Google have found most success in selling their hosted applications to local educational institutions such as education departments and universities. But Hayward said he expected in the next three to four months to see a deal in Australia of a similar size to the one inked by Google with the Los Angeles City Council in late October 2009, which will see the city shift some 30,000 staff onto Gmail under CSC's direction.

Hayward said CSC was having a series of meetings with Google about the intense levels of interest in the search giant's cloud applications.

Head in the clouds

Although Hayward noted CSC would still focus on its strengths in the financial, resources and public sectors, and that traditional IT outsourcing was still in demand, he said the company also needed to change its model somewhat to reflect the new environment.

In a wider sense, CSC has recently evolved a multi-faceted cloud computing push in the Australian environment that will see it offer various solutions at various levels to meet clients' demands. "Australian enterprises today are beginning to explore clouds," said Hayward.

In particular, however, the company has partnered heavily with the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition of vendors EMC, Cisco and VMWare. The VCE approach of combining the three vendors' storage, networking and virtualisation technology offered CSC the best technology for private cloud solutions in its Australian operations, Hayward said.

"In the absence of any client having a clear preference, we're offering them VCE," he said.

CSC has also unveiled a push to bring the Cordys middleware platform into the Australian market.

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